The elevation of James Moore to Industry Minister is viewed as a sign Prime Minister Stephen Harper will look to his senior B.C. minister to help convince the province to accept contentious new oil pipelines.
The Conservative MP for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam rose from Heritage Minister in a federal cabinet shuffle announced Monday.
SFU political science professor Patrick Smith said he’s not surprised Moore has been promoted, calling him one of the government’s top performers in the House of Commons.
But Smith said the move also strongly suggests Harper and National Resources Joe Oliver – who stays in his post – will press the provincial government to agree to either the Kinder Morgan or Northern Gateway pipeline projects to allow a crucial Pacific outlet for Alberta oil.
“They’re going to want a strong ally in the B.C. minister, which could cause him some of his own difficulties,” Smith said. “British Columbians, as a general rule, are not in favour [of oil pipelines].”
He described the bigger role for Moore as one that brings more opportunities, but also more risk if Ottawa’s energy development agenda unfolds badly in B.C.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark has insisted any new oil pipeline must meet five provincial conditions, including world-class land and marine safety provisions, the addressing of aboriginal issues and a share of benefits for B.C.
Smith said Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline twinning is more likely to proceed than Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project, because Trans Mountain is already twinned along a third of the corridor, it faces less First Nations opposition and it uses an established tanker route and an existing land right-of-way.
“I would think if you’re Stephen Harper and Joe Oliver and you’re going to push it, that’s the one you’re going to push.”
Most other B.C. faces in the Harper cabinet are unchanged. The most notable shift was that of Delta-Richmond East MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay from associate minister of national defence to National Revenue Minister.
Abbotsford MP Ed Fast remains International Trade Minister, while Richmond MP Alice Wong stays on as Minister of State for Seniors.
John Duncan (Vancouver Island-North) had resigned from cabinet in February after writing an inappropriate character reference letter but returns now as whip.
Other changes in the federal cabinet shuffle see Peter MacKay become Justice Minister and Attorney-General and Rob Nicholson become Defence Minister – the two swapped jobs.
Steven Blaney is the new Public Safety Minister, replacing the retiring Vic Toews.
Leona Aglukkaq, the former health minister, becomes Environment Minister, while Rona Ambrose takes over at health.
Lisa Raitt is now Transportation Minister, while former revenue minister Gail Shea is back in her old role as Fisheries Minister. Bernard Valcourt keeps the aboriginal affairs portfolio.